Cornell CALS - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Courses & Trainings

Project Lead: Erica Frenay

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Are you thinking about starting a small farm? Do you already have a farm that you're looking to expand? Invest in your professional development and you'll see the returns in your business.

In-Person Trainings and Workshops

Our projects offer numerous in-person educational opportunities throughout the state for farmers to learn more deeply on specific aspects of farm business and production. Visit our project pages to learn more about upcoming trainings.

There are also workshops, trainings and other events for farmers hosted by CCE offices and other organizations. Visit our events page for a calendar of upcoming events.

More information coming soon...

Online Courses for Aspiring, New, & Experienced Farmers

The Cornell Small Farms Program offers a suite of more than 20 online courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills.

  • Interactive 5 to 8-week courses connect you to the information and people you need to start a successful farm business or diversify your farm
  • Led by experienced educators and farmers
  • Pick and choose the courses you want
  • Most courses can be taken by people anywhere in the world (read the course description to check whether it is targeted to farming in the Northeastern U.S.)

“The expertise and resources presented and available in the course are awesome and arm me with the information needed to make better decisions" ~ Online course alum

Choosing A Course

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BF101

BF 101: Starting at Square One

Creating a Farm to Match Your Values, Goals, Skills, and Resources This course helps new and aspiring farmers take the...
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BF 102: Exploring Markets & Profits

Testing the Feasibility of Your Farming Ideas Have an idea for a farm enterprise but not sure if it’s feasible?...
BF103

BF 103: Taking Care of Business

Understanding the Business, Tax, and Regulatory Implications of Your Farm This course helps aspiring and beginning farmers assess and manage a...
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BF 110: Soil Health

Building the Farm from the Ground Up The health and productivity of the soil forms the basis for any farm’s...
BF120

BF 120: Veggie Farming, part 1

From Planning to Planting This course helps new and aspiring vegetable producers answer basic questions about site selection, crop rotation,...
BF121

BF 121: Veggie Farming, part 2

From Season-Long Care to Harvest This course continues where BF 120 ends and covers vegetable production from transplanting to harvest,...
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BF 122: Berry Production

Getting Started with Production and Marketing If you're exploring the idea of adding berries and bramble fruits to your farm,...
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BF 130: Poultry Production

Profiting from Layers, Broilers, Turkeys, and Ducks Many new farmers get started with poultry, because it’s a relatively low-investment enterprise...
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BF 138: Getting Started with Pastured Pigs

Developing a Successful Farm Business with Pigs This course is formatted to guide beginning farmers through the production and marketing...
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BF 150: Farm Woodlot Management

Assessing the economic potential of a managed forest Woodlots are a common feature of most farms in the eastern US,...
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BF 151: Woodland Mushroom Cultivation

Growing Mushrooms on Logs, Stumps, and Woodchips Mushrooms are an emerging niche crop with many benefits, including improving farmer stewardship...
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BF 152: Introduction to Maple Syrup Production

Maple syrup production is rapidly growing around the Northeast and offers a sound financial opportunity to utilize woodlots. This course...
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BF 153: Indoor Specialty Mushroom Cultivation

Making good use of farm buildings and indoor spaces for mushroom production Mushrooms are an emerging niche crop with many...
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BF 160: Introduction to Beekeeping

Getting your hive operation off the ground. Whether you are currently keeping honey bees, or are considering adding them to...
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BF 202: Writing a Business Plan

Planning for Long-term Success Whether you intend to borrow money or not, heading into a farm venture without a business...
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BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning

Building Farm Profit Into the Picture If you’ve been struggling to make your farm operation profitable without driving yourself into...
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BF 204: QuickBooks for Farmers

This course is an introduction to QuickBooks, designed to provide an overview of the QuickBooks Pro software application. It will...
BF220

BF 220: Season Extension with High Tunnels

Know Before You Grow Adding weeks to either end of your growing season can mean attaining a premium for having...
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BF 223: Introduction to Tree Fruit Production

Planning and managing orchards for hobby and business Tree fruit are an important component of the agricultural and homeowner landscape....
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BF 231: Grazing Management

Improve Your Triple Bottom Line Through Better Grazing Grazing is more than simply turning livestock out onto a green “warehouse”...
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BF 232: Sheep Production

Managing Your Flock for Success Have sheep or thinking about getting a flock? Producers of all experience levels will find...

Online Courses FAQ

Any question is a good question. If you don’t see your answer to one of these common questions, contact us any time.

When can I register for courses?

Registration opens in August 19 for all courses, and will remain open permanently. Once you purchase a course, you will have permanent access for as long as we are operating on the Teachable platform. You can register for any course at any time after Aug 19, though the instructors are only active and offering the real-time webinars during a 6-week period each year. Read the course description for each course carefully to learn more.

What type of hardware and internet connection do I need? Does the course require any special software?

OPERATING SYSTEM: The following operating systems are supported by our webinar platform, Zoom:

  • Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6.8 /(Snow Leopard) or later
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8 or 8.1
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista with SP1 or later
  • Windows XP with SP3 or later
  • iOS, Android and Blackberry mobile devices

If you are using an unsupported operating system you will not be able to join the live webinar sessions that make up some of the best content of the course, so please do not register for courses unless you will be upgrading your operating system before the course begins.

INTERNET: We recommend that you use a computer with a DSL or Cable modem connection, or a mobile device with a fast connection. Satellite connection is usually too unpredictable for participating in webinars.

SOFTWARE: You do not need any special software for the course, beyond an internet browser (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Opera, etc) and a small free download you will be automatically prompted to complete in order to access webinars on Zoom. It is helpful, but not strictly necessary, to have Microsoft Office (for Word and Excel documents) but your instructor can get around this if you don't have it.

HARDWARE: You DO need to have functioning speakers for the webinars. While it’s helpful to have a working mic, it is not necessary.

How much do courses cost?

Courses are priced from $199-299, based on your household income. We also offer a payment plan that lets you split the middle tier price into 2 payments.

Why are the courses so expensive? Do you offer any financial aid or scholarships?

These courses are a rare example of a farmer training program running solely on registration revenue, with no ongoing grant support. We operate the courses on the slimmest possible margin so that we can keep the fees as low as possible. We do realize that not everyone feels they can afford the price of our courses, but we do not have the capacity to offer scholarships. Course alumni have reported that the value they received from the course was more than worth the price. In many cases, the course material has paid for itself in terms of mistakes avoided or innovations learned.

I live (and plan to farm) outside NYS. Are your courses appropriate for me?

Most of our courses are appropriate for a wide geographic range of participants. Please read each course description carefully. If the course is relevant only to participants in a particular state or region, it will be listed there.

What are the online courses like? What can I expect?

Our courses involve real-time webinars (using Zoom) and an online "course headquarters" (using Teachable) for discussions, resource-sharing, and homework between webinars.

You will have the ability to interact with your instructor, guest presenters, and fellow students via a chat feature during webinars and via comments in Teachable.

You can expect to network with like-minded fellow learners, hear from farmers and other farming experts in live web sessions, learn about useful resources, and depending on the course, get direct feedback on your farming plans.

Courses are typically 6 weeks long and take place mostly on your own time in a virtual "campus" called Teachable, an online learning platform. Each week, the instructor will make a new lesson--with readings, resources, discussion forums, and assignments--available to view. You can complete the work anytime during the week.

If a live webinar is scheduled for that week, you'll be given a link to click at a particular time and date. If you cannot make it, a recording of the webinar will be posted in Teachable for you to watch later.

The webinars are the only part of the course that take place at a particular time and date; otherwise you can work on the course whenever it's convenient for your schedule. Typically, our online courses require a high degree of self-motivation and ability to work on your own.

Can I get college credit for completing your online courses?

No, we are unable to offer academic credit for our courses.

Can I take more than one online course at a time?

It is possible to take more than one course at a time. If they have webinars on the same night, you can alternate which one you attend live, and later watch the webinar recording for the other course. Otherwise, coursework is conducted on your own time, so you would just have to be especially conscious to budget enough time in your week to do the readings, participate in discussions and complete homework assignments for multiple courses each week.

How many hours a week do I need to spend to keep up with the course?

Students report spending 2-6 hrs. a week on a course, with the average being about 3. If you are less experienced with online learning, and/or less experienced with farming, expect to spend 6 or more hours per week to participate fully. Planning courses, especially BF 202: Planning to Stay in Business and BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning, require at least 6 hours each week if you are serious about completing the work, because you will be writing your own business plan or financial plan and these courses keep an intense pace. As with any learning experience, the more you are able to put into reading, thinking, and applying this material to your own farm plans, the more you will get out of the course!

If I miss a webinar can I watch it at a later date?

Webinars will be recorded and a link will be posted in Teachable, your online "campus", each week. Simply click the link and you will be able to watch it. All other course materials and discussion forums from prior weeks will be available at all times throughout the course, so anytime you want to go back and review something you will be able to.

Will there be opportunities to hear from successful farmers?

We usually invite at least two farmers to present about their farm operations and start-up experience during the webinars, so students are exposed to two different farmer perspectives and can directly ask them lots of questions. Where possible, we also incorporate videos of farmers into the course. A few of our instructors are also farmers - check out the instructor bio section of each course description page to learn more about their expertise.

What is the cancellation policy for your courses?

If there are fewer than 10 people registered for a course 7 days before the first webinar, we will notify all registrants by email and offer the option to transfer registration to a different course OR receive a full refund.

What is the refund policy if I need to cancel my registration?

We offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means if you need to cancel or are unhappy with your course anytime up to 30 days after the course start date, we will give you a full refund.

Do you offer scholarships or reduced registrations?

We offer tiered pricing from $199-299 on all of our courses, based on household income.

I would like to pay for your courses with my AmeriCorps Education Award money, or with GI Bill funds. Is this possible?

Because our courses are offered through Cornell Cooperative Extension and are not accredited college-level courses, they are not eligible for payment with these funds.

 

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